BBC Music Magazine - - OPERA -

Arias from Gi­ulio Ce­sare, Al­cina, Theodora, Rodelinda and Agrip­pina & Pur­cell’s Dido and Ae­neas

Sonya Yoncheva (so­prano), Karine De­shayes (mezzo-so­prano); Academia Mon­tis Re­galis/alessan­dro De Marchi

Sony Clas­si­cal 88985302932 61:01 mins

Though known for her Bizet, Verdi and Bellini, Sonya Yoncheva trained with Wil­liam Christie, and has al­ways cul­ti­vated Baroque reper­tory. Here she re­sumes her col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Academia Mon­tis Re­galis (joined by Karine De­shayes for two duets) to per­form the in­domitable fe­males of Han­del’s op­eras: Al­cina, Mor­gana, Cleopa­tra, Theodora, Agrip­pina, Rodelinda.

Yoncheva is a force of na­ture. Her top notes merit a gale warn­ing, her words drip with pas­sion, and the bloom of her low­est reg­is­ter equals that of her top. Yet she is above all an artist. Singers this pow­er­ful of­ten let the voice take over. She does the op­po­site, play­ing her voice as a pe­riod in­stru­ment. The ef­fect in­vokes won­der, just as prima don­nas re­port­edly did in the 18th cen­tury. In Cleopa­tra’s ‘Se pietà di me non senti’, the hero­ine long­ing for death, Yoncheva lets her voice drift, eras­ing the me­ter, and some­times end­ing phrases with­out vi­brato, so evok­ing on a deeply phys­i­cal level the bleak­ness of de­spair. In Mor­gana’s ‘Tor­nami vagheg­giar’, try­ing to win the man she loves (ac­tu­ally a woman), Yoncheva light­ens her tim­bre, and em­pha­sises the im­pu­dence of Mor­gana with her own stac­cato ad­di­tions. Direc­tor Alessan­dro de Marchi suc­ceeds in fresh­en­ing up po­ten­tially shop-worn arias, such as Cleopa­tra’s ‘Piangerò’. Berta Jon­cus

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